Dr Donny Suh: Finding purpose and passion for ophthalmology

Donny W. Suh, MD, finds his love for practicing pediatric ophthalmology grows stronger with each passing year. He offers two tips to fellow physicians and his residents and fellows for managing the stressors of daily practice and for getting a good night’s sleep. He also shares his journey in a book called “Catching A Star,” with all proceeds going to a medical mission program.

Video transcript

Note: This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Donny Suh, MD: Hi, my name is Donny Suh. I'm a pediatric ophthalmologist and strabismologist. I'm a Professor and Chief of our section at the University of California, Irvine, at Gavin Herbert Eye Institute.

What are the things that I wish I had known when I started this field. I started practicing 22 years ago, back in 2000. I really did not know what I was getting myself into when I went into ophthalmology. I'm going to just say that I feel extremely fortunate because my field of pediatric ophthalmology... I learned that I love my field more and more as I practice longer. I feel extremely fortunate. I did not know how much I was going to like my field. I love my field more now than 22 years ago. I feel very blessed.

What are the things that keep me up at night? I'm going to say that when I first started... I am taking care of someone's most precious child. So I would constantly worry about, like, what happens if the surgery did not go well. Or what happens if the child develops infection. And sometimes, after surgery, I have no control over what the child does. For example, rubbing their eyes, getting punched, and fighting with their siblings right after surgery. So these things can lead to blindness. There're two things that actually helped me tremendously to help me to go to sleep. And this is what I tell my residents and fellows.

Number one, I always myself this question. Did you try your best? Number one. And if the answer is 'yes,' then I go to the second question. Did you try your very, very best in terms of trying to help people?

If the answer is 'yes' to both questions, then I just go to sleep. Because there are things that I can control and there are things that I cannot control. So only try to control the things that I have control over. That actually helped me tremendously and helped me to enjoy my field even more. I'm going to tell you, there are a lot of things that I wish I had known when I was younger. I actually wrote a book.

It's about finding purpose as a physician, and it's called 'Catching A Star.' It's under my name. It's available in all bookstores [and] on Amazon. All proceeds go to a medical mission program. It's called 'Catching A Star.' It helped me to find my purpose in my profession. I hope you find your purpose as well. Thank you.